Humanitarianism and Corporate Branding: The Case of Brand Aid

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Consumers, partnering with corporations and celebrities, are forming new alliances in international humanitarianism through what we call ‘Brand Aid’ initiatives, in which humanitarian communication is key to their success. Multi-media communication platforms of engagement help frame problems in ways that can be solved through linking consumer-citizens with distant ‘Others’ around the globe. Such humanitarian communications are best understood through an intellectual engagement with both a representational analysis of the images and narratives that they construct, and a materialist analysis of the political and economic relations that underly these communications. In this chapter, we draw on our earlier work examining Product RED to explore key trends and controversies related to BrandAidification – the processes of cause-related marketing (CRM) that continue to produce Brand Aid initiatives as important cultural and humanitarian phenomena. We briefly analyze two further Brand Aid initiatives – We Can Be Heroes by DC Comics, and TOMS Shoes – and reflect critically on these examples to argue that Brand Aid uses imaginaries of limited humanitarianism to sell products to Northern consumers while constructing ‘truths’ about international development and consumer engagement that make humanitarianism appear simple, manageable and a marketable product. Finally, we provide an integrated analytical framework that can guide future research in this field.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Humanitarian Communication
EditorsLilie Chouliaraki, Anne Vestergaard
Number of pages19
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Publication date2022
ISBN (Print)9781138230576, 9781032081212
ISBN (Electronic)9781315363493
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Published 30 September 2021.

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